0

Stakes high for Broncos, Falcons

The bottom heavy set-up for Brookwood's football schedule made this situation predictable, so it didn't catch head coach Mark Crews by surprise.

With the region's weaker teams first, the Broncos knew a good start to Region 8-AAAAA play was likely. But they also were aware that their playoff fate and seeding wouldn't shake out until much later.

That process begins in earnest tonight when they host Dacula in a key region game, which will be followed by matchups with rivals South Gwinnett and Parkview.

"It's a situation where you've got three or four teams all fighting for the second seed (behind unbeaten Grayson) in our region," Crews said. "The only way to assure yourself to be able to do that is to win the football game. Right now we could be 6-1 and be in the exact same boat we're in at 4-3. The last three weeks are the ones that matter."

Now Brookwood (4-3, 4-1) is in a tight region race that also includes Dacula (4-3, 3-2), as well as South Gwinnett (6-1, 4-1), Parkview (4-4, 3-3) and Shiloh (4-4, 3-3).

Aside from Grayson, the remaining three playoff spots and their order of finish is very unsettled. Brookwood and South have the best positions in that they can win out and control their own fate for the No. 2 spot, which brings a home playoff game.

"(Tonight's game) is pretty important obviously," Dacula head coach Kevin Maloof said. "Brookwood still has a shot for the No. 2 seed. We still have a shot for the No. 3 seed. It's critical for both of us.

"I'm concentrating on Brookwood. If we win out, we're in (the playoffs). But the most important thing now is to focus and get ready for Brookwood."

Brookwood battled Grayson well two weeks ago, but Crews said his team regressed last Friday in a 28-21 overtime win at Central Gwinnett. A better effort will be necessary tonight against a Dacula team that has won back-to-back key region games over Parkview (9-6 in OT) and Shiloh (20-0).

The Falcons' defense has been outstanding in that winning streak. Elijah Mahaley (seven tackles, two for losses, one sack), Dexter Walker (five tackles, two pass breakups), Chase Loyd (six tackles) and Sylvester Williams (five tackles) led the unit last week in a shutout of Shiloh.

"Defensively the last two weeks we've played really, really inspired football," Maloof said. "We played defense like we have in the past at Dacula. It's something we take pride in."

Moving the ball will be tough for the Broncos, who hope to have running back Julian Suber back from nagging ankle and knee injuries this week. Allen McCray filled in well at Suber's spot last Friday, while quarterback Ben McLane has given Brookwood a better passing threat than it's had in years. His school record-tying three TDs last week also tied a school single season record of 13.

"It's still Brookwood," Maloof said. "Brookwood wants to run the ball first, but they're very capable of throwing it. The McLane kid is a coach's son. He's like a coach on the field."

SideBar: DACULA AT BROOKWOOD

Dacula Falcons (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Kevin Maloof

Record: 4-3, 3-2 region

Last week: Beat Shiloh 20-0

Brookwood Broncos (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Mark Crews

Record: 4-3, 4-1 region

Last week: Beat Central Gwinnett 28-21 in OT

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Brookwood won 9-6 in OT last year

Directions to Brookwood High School: From I-85, go east on Pleasant Hill Road and merge onto Ronald Reagan Parkway. Proceed to the Five Forks-Trickum Road exit. Turn right and the next left on Dogwood Road. School is on the right.

Series history:

2008 - Brookwood 9, Dacula 6 (OT)

2005 - Brookwood 23, Dacula 14*

2005 - Brookwood 34, Dacula 13

2004 - Brookwood 14, Dacula 7

2003 - Brookwood 42, Dacula 14

2002 - Brookwood 28, Dacula 3

2001 - Dacula 28, Brookwood 20

2000 - Brookwood 24, Dacula 10

* Class AAAAA semifinals at Georgia Dome